Mum’s song of hope inspires premmie parents across Australia


Singer-songwriter Alana Wilkinson has struck a chord with parents caring for their sick and premature babies in neonatal units across the country after releasing a new single inspired by her ‘miracle’ son’s own fight for survival.

Her baby, Rafferty, weighed just 704 grams when he was born four months’ premature at Mater Mothers’ Hospital in South Brisbane at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Byron Bay-based folk singer spent the weeks after her son’s birth in October 2021 playing her ukulele and singing to Rafferty as he slept in his incubator in the hospital’s Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU) – and it was in the NCCU that she wrote and composed ‘Dream Big’.

“I wrote the song I really needed to hear, and my hope is that this song can sit beside parents and families who need to hear it too,” Ms Wilkinson said.

“This has brought me and my husband Angus tremendous healing.”

Since releasing the song this year Ms Wilkinson has received an overwhelming response from mums with sick and premature babies in neonatal units across the country who have been touched by ‘Dream Big’.

“I’ve received emails and messages from families moving through their neonatal journey who have found comfort in listening to this song, and that to me is why it was so important to release it,” Ms Wilkinson said.

“When I filmed this song while Rafferty was in hospital, I shared it on social media, and it circulated throughout neonatal units around Australia where mums were playing it for their babies.

“There was the uncertainty, the trauma, the medical words and conditions I needed to wrap my head around, which all contributed to feeling really helpless.”

Ms Wilkinson said singing to her baby boy in hospital was comforting, and playing music to him was a way they bonded.

“I noticed when I sang and he heard my voice, his heart rate stabilised quickly,” she said.

She said despite a three-month stay in the NCCU, a dramatic flood evacuation and a year on oxygen at home, Rafferty had been a constant source of inspiration.

His early arrival also prompted the first-time parents to tie the knot in a special ceremony next to their little boy’s incubator when he was just three weeks old.

“Writing this song connected me right back in with my son. While singing it to him in the NCCU I was able to step out of fear and focus all my love and energy on us and the life we had waiting ahead,” she said.

“I would imagine him growing older, wishing on birthday cakes, climbing trees, painting pictures, learning to drive, and all of this kept me in alignment with him.

“One of the lines in the song is, ‘We have a magic string that ties us, no matter how far we find ourselves away, I’d still feel you in outer space’.

“This line refers to the primal mama-baby communication and the physical ache I felt when I wasn’t with him.”

While juggling full-time motherhood, Ms Wilkinson has been busy touring around the country with sold-out headline shows, sharing stages with esteemed artists including Daryl Braithwaite, Tim Freedman, Fanny Lumsden, Clare Bowditch, The Pierce Brothers, and Kav Temperle.

Ms Wilkinson said Raffy was now a thriving and healthy two-year-old who enjoys singing, chatting and playing musical instruments.

“He’s a little noise-maker and we are thrilled that this is where we have landed after such a long road,” she said.

Mater Director of Neonatology Dr Pita Birch said research shows music therapy can improve the health outcome of premature babies.

“Premature babies are surrounded by breathing equipment and the beeping of machines, so to hear the sweet tunes of a lullaby, or in this case Ms Wilkinson’s new song, can be comforting to a baby and reduce their stress levels,” Dr Birch said.

Listen to ‘Dream Big’ via a variety of music channels including Spotify, YouTube Music and Apple Music. Watch her video clip here.

Watch Alana sing to baby Rafferty as he fought for survival in the NICU here.

/Public Release. View in full here.